I entered my freshman year in Goshen College in a position I never imagined I’d be in. Five months earlier, in the spring of my Senior year of high school, my boyfriend Micah was in a serious car accident and died several days later. Though encompassed in grief, I made the decision to continue with my plan of going to college.

By the time Christmas break rolled around, I had survived an intense first semester of trying to balance homework, a social life and processing Micah’s death. As I sat in my room at home packing to return to Goshen for the next semester, it hit me clear as ever, almost as if someone had said it out loud, “I need time off. I need time to be present with what I’m experiencing.”

So it was settled. I would take the semester off. I returned to Goshen to pack my things and tell my friends that I wouldn’t be returning. Before I left, a friend told me that what I was doing had an official term: a “psychosocial moratorium.” A time in one’s life to take a break, discover new things, explore, travel, learn, dream, grow. I felt so embraced by Goshen’s Community and knew that my decision would be the right one.

I ended up finding a wonderful mixture of volunteering, relaxing, and healing during my five months off. Roughly three or four times a week I would volunteer at local organizations. For several months I worked as a swim buddy and soccer coach at a rehabilitation center for children with disabilities. Another month I babysat children in a transitional shelter for homeless women. I was inspired by the perseverance I saw in so many of the people around me, even though they were facing their own significant trials.

On days off, I would sleep in, read, write, knit, paint, bake, or be with my family. It was so freeing to be able to do absolutely nothing but the things I knew I wanted to do. Never in my life had I so much time to explore my own hobbies and creativity.

My “psychosocial moratorium” was one of the best choices I’ve made in my life. It has taken coming back to Goshen to realize how much it’s changed me—not only do I feel more healed, but I’ve realized how much I can contribute to the world when I intentionally give myself time to do so.

I encourage Goshen students to not be afraid of taking time off, whether it is a semester or even just a week. The possibilities are truly endless! Sometimes we can be so focused on completing majors that we forget to be purely in the present. In my case, it took going home to a refuge of nurture and healing to do so.